Entries in Yann de Rochefort (2)



Note: Manzanilla closed in February 2014.


Spanish cuisine is on the upswing in New York, with places like Boqueria, Salinas, Terdulia, and Barraca receiving strong reviews in recent years.

As the Observer’s Joshua David Stein notes, their successes must be weighed against high-profile flops, like Gastroarte, Romera, and Ureña.

Perhaps the chef Dani Garcia and owner Yann de Rochefort (of Boqueria) had those flops in mind when they opened Manzanilla near Gramercy Park two months ago. Garcia has a Michelin two-star restaurant in his native Andalucía, but here he aims a lot lower, bargaining that Manhattan diners aren’t ready for his $150 tasting menu.

It’s a pity that chefs don’t feel they can bring their best work to New York, but that’s the world we live in. I can’t blame the chef for opening an unabashedly populist spot that will succeed, in lieu of a more ambitious one that probably wouldn’t.

Manzanilla, a close twin of one of Garcia’s restaurants in Southern Spain, styles itself a brasserie. It’s mid-priced by Manhattan standards, with snacks (7 items; $8–29), appetizers (8 items; $13–18), entrées (10 items; $26–40) and side dishes (3 items; $8).

You could put together a “tapas” meal from the snacks portion of the menu, but they’re not the focus; unlike most of the competition in New York, there are no paellas to be found. Most of the dishes, at least as described, come across as fairly tame, but in our small sample, they were all executed well.


Tomato Tartare ($8; above left) is as much of a pun as the chef will allow, but it bursts with robust flavor.

A foie gras terrine ($18; above right) is decorated with caramelized goat cheese, green apple purée, and raisins. It doesn’t bust any culinary boundaries, but foie gras junkies will go home happy. The chef gets no extra credit for burnt slices of toast (right), half of them with holes a baby’s hand could slip through.


I’ve less to say about Striped Bass ($27; above left). Suckling Pig ($34; above right) was one of the better renditions of a classic dish that I’ve had in a while.

There’s a bustling bar area up-front. The cocktails are terrific, although you might wait a while to get a bartender’s attention. The Spanish-heavy wine list is excellent for a new place. There aren’t many bargains, but there are many good selections to be had above $60.

In the early days, the kitchen at Manzanilla is operating at a high level, allowing for the limitations inherent in the format. The question with these types of places, is whether they can sustain that after the review period is over and the founder returns home to tend the rest of his empire.

Manzanilla (345 Park Avenue South at 26th Street, Gramercy)

Food: Classic Spanish cuisine, classic execution
Service: A shade on the slow side, but mostly very good
Ambiance: A bustling brasserie with a large bar and an open kitchen




Note: This is a review under chef Seamus Mullen, who left the restaurant in July 2010. Marc Vidal is his replacement.


Boqueria is one of those insanely busy restaurants that can make its own rules without impairing the demand for its product—in this case, Spanish tapas. Since it opened three years ago in the Flatiron District, the tiny space has been perpetually packed. A second Boqueria opened in Soho, and apparently it’s just as busy.

So Boqueria doesn’t take reservations and forces all of its patrons to sit on bar stools, many at communal tables where the adjacent party is just inches away.

When I arrived at 6:15 p.m. on a Friday night, I snagged one of the few vacant bar tables, but it was missing a stool. Could this be rectified when my girlfriend arrived?

The hostess shrugged. “If we have one,” she said. Otherwise, we’d be advised to cram ourselves onto the banquette side by side.

It turned out that a spare stool was hidden in the coat-check room. Disaster averted. At the very least, her fall-back suggestion would have been awfully cramped, as we observed at other tables not so lucky.

Boqueria can get away with this, as the waves of eager diners just keep coming and coming, as they’ve done since Frank Bruni awarded the unassuming place two stars in November 2006.

The concise menu offers just north of a dozen tapas ($5–12), just three entrées ($17–29), a broad selection of cheeses ($5–6) and a half-dozen cured meats, called Embutidos ($5–6 each). There’s a list of daily specials (mercifully, in print), often including suckling pig, though alas not when we visited.

I was too hungry to wait, so I started with a plate of three Embutidos—the Serrano ham, the spiced pork sausage, and the Catalan hard pork sausage, paired with a Spanish cider practically as alcoholic as a dry martini. The meats were all good, but probably would have worked better as a shared order.

After my girlfriend arrived, we started with the seared octopus ($9) and the seared lamb ($8), both served on skewers (above left). An order of Croquetas ($10; not pictured) offered lightly breaded, creamy helpings of mushroom, salt cod, and suckling pig. Surprisingly, the mushroom croquetas tasted best, whereas the pig had almost no discernable flavor at all.

Paella ($29; above right) is the only item above $20, but it’s still a good deal, as the portion is massive. The two of us finished all of the seafood, but left quite a bit of the rice behind. I found the rice over-cooked. Two huge langoustines were plated lazily on top, and not properly integrated into the dish. The clams were perfectly done.

For a place this busy, the server was reasonably attentive. Then again, turning tables is the name of the game. After we got up to leave, it took all of ten milliseconds for another party to grab our table.

I was less impressed with Boqueria than I’d expected to be. The food was mostly good, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. I’d love to return for one of the trademark pork entrées that folks rave about, but you never know when they’re on the menu.

Boqueria (53 West 19th Street between Fifth & Sixth Avenues, Flatiron District)

Food: *
Service: *
Ambiance: no stars
Overall: *